BCRS’ belief and words of support for small businesses and their struggle to secure finance has gone international. In June, five members of the team hopped across the Irish Sea to attend the European Microfinance Network’s (EMN) Annual Conference in Dublin, where the SME lender was holding a workshop on ‘Investment Readiness.’
It was only earlier this year that BCRS took the step to become a member of the European Microfinance Network, but since then the organisation has attended a number of EMN-organised workshops and events aside from the Annual Conference. Paul Kalinauckas, Chief Executive of BCRS, made the journey to Brussels in March to meet with fellow members, while Jacqui Williams, Financial Administrator, made an identical journey in May – but this time to attend ‘The new EaSI Guarantee’ workshop.
The European Microfinance Network (EMN) was launched in 2003 by founding members from the UK, France and Germany. The not for profit organisation was established in order to support microenterprises and self-employment across Europe, by consulting members and lobbying to raise awareness of issues that hinder a sound microfinance market – specifically by building strong European legislative and regulatory frameworks.
Essentially, the EMN promotes microfinance in the European Union to assist in the fight against social and financial exclusion of those running, operating and working in the SME sector.
The aim of the Annual Conference was to provide an in-depth and interactive knowledge and idea sharing platform for members and stakeholders. Plenary sessions, presentations, workshops and meetings were held throughout the three day conference.
BCRS were pleased to host a workshop entitled ‘Is Your MFI Investment Ready?’ on the second day of the conference, which attracted a significant audience. This workshop was run in conjunction with our partners from Unity Trust Bank and the CDFA.
Stephen Deakin, Financial Controller and Company Secretary at BCRS Business Loans, led the session which specifically aimed to provide European colleagues with an idea of the process BCRS Business Loans went through in order to become investment ready; along with what was learnt and what was gained from the process. Stephen also elaborated on the pros and cons associated with bank borrowing to support BCRS’ lending activity.
When asked about the EMN Annual Conference, Paul Kalinauckas, Chief Executive of BCRS, commented, ‘We were pleased to show our support for the EMN by attending their Annual Conference. Hosting a workshop was a great way to bring BCRS to the forefront of proceedings and to give advice to other European CDFIs to help in their quest to become investment ready – we felt we had a lot of useful information to share with them.’
‘This event also proved to be an excellent way of sharing insight and experience with other professionals who work in the microfinance sector. BCRS are hoping to attend next year’s EMN Annual Conference,’ concluded Paul.
Please find a storify of the EMN Annual Conference by clicking here. This article offers an insight into proceedings and thoughts at the conference, gathered from a selection of Tweets.